Back To Blog Blazing: Kyle's First Post of the New Year

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I've taken probably one of the longest breaks from blogging I've ever taken over these last few weeks.  I can't thank the other bloggers here at Citizen Orange enough for covering for me.  I hope you've all seen our new blogger, El Random Hero, who couldn't have come at a better time.  Soon you'll see more bloggers here, too. 

I still have a lot of work to do.  I'm completely done with two classes already but still have two finals to take for two more.  It's my first semester back at school.  It looks like I'm going to be able to get through it.  I had my doubts, but I'm not here to write about all that.

I had an incredible break in Central America.  It gave me a lot of time to think about what I want out of this year.
I wish I could say I came up with answers, but all I have is more questions.  I haven't had time to update the readers of Citizen Orange on how my thinking has been changing, lately.  Over this last year, I've been extremely influenced by the Student Immigrant Movement here in Massachusetts.  It's taken me a while to absorb what the leaders of SIM have been trying to tell me, but lately have really opened my eyes to the principles of organizing.

Organizing tools really are the building blocks of any movement for change.  Anyone that has wanted to make a difference in the world and has acted on it is an organizer, whether they know it or not.  What's also surprised me, is that there's a lot to learn about organizing that isn't very intuitive.  It takes training to figure out the right tools to use for change.  Most people don't know the difference between a goal and a tactic when it comes to organizing.  Despite all my activism up to this point, I was one of them. I'm not going to get into all the details in this post.  I still have a lot to learn.

Probably most damning realization for me has been that organizing is not necessarily compatible with the online work that I do.  It seems like it should be, but it is not.  Another example of how organizing isn't intuitive.  For instance, I've gotten hundreds to commit to coming to an event through the facebook, but none of them came.  Obviously, coming out to a meeting is a lot to ask of anyone that you have an online relationship with.  In new media you measure actions by clicks and views.  That can be significant, but the folks at SIM weren't interested in clicks and views, they wanted folks to come out to meetings.

There is a tension between communications and organizing and new media is right at the center of that tension.  From a communications perspective, you want as many people to hear about injustice as possible and the more people you connect and the more people that hear about it, the better things are.  There are a lot of intangibles that occur when you connect people and you get the right messages out.  Some of the people you reach and convert through communications become organizers themselves, but again it gets back to organizing.

If you don't know how to organize, you don't know how to make change.  There are very specific principles to organizing.  An organizer tries to identify a constituency and develop that constituency so that it can harness its own power to make the change it wants to make.  As a blogger I do something entirely different in that I advocate for those that don't have the power to advocate for themselves.  In new media, it's also hard to identify and develop constituencies.

So again there's this tension, and I'm really trying to figure out how to resolve it.  In the end, maybe there is no way to resolve it and I just have to be very clear about the different things that I'm doing.  There's gotta be a Kyle the blogger and there's got to be a Kyle the organizer.  Those different identities might intersect at some point, but then what am I?  What is my priority?

This is probably not the best first blog post of the year, but it's where I'm at.  Now back to blog blazing.

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3 Comments

Dave Bennion said:

Great post! I had been thinking about some of these issues myself. I am still a newcomer to many of these issues and organizing, especially, has been kind of a mystery to me. I am glad you are sharing the wisdom.

nezua said:

great post kyle. sounds like youre in a good place.

"If you don't know how to organize, you don't know how to make change."

careful with statements this absolute. they sure feel good...but i'd first define "change." :) lots of ways to make change, and i have a feeling you mean something very specific. but maybe you mean exactly what you say, and i'll come around to seeing that. :) either way, let's keep working, growing, and fighting.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Thanks Nezua for suggesting caution with statements like that. I'm not as careful and deliberate with my words as you are, and your opinion on these sorts of things is to be greatly respected.

I guess my statement above though doesn't speak to the specificity of the type of change I was thinking about, so much as it speaks to the vastness of the principles of organizing. Everyone's an organizer, whether they know it or not. I know for a fact you're an organizer, Nezua, even if you haven't been trained in the principles of organizing.

I wouldn't dare suggest that you have to be trained in the principles of organizing to make change, anymore than I would suggest you have to know every single grammar rule to write. Still, there are underlying principles that help you understand certain things, which might not be intuitive.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on January 14, 2009 5:08 PM.

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